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Ohio Considers Requiring Teachers to Report Transgender Students

August 2nd, 2018

The Ohio legislature recently introduced a bill that would require teachers to immediately inform parents of any signs that a student might be transgender.

The Ohio legislature recently introduced a bill that would require teachers to immediately inform parents of any signs that a student might be transgender.

Ohio’s legislature recently introduced House Bill 658, which would require teachers to immediately inform parents if any signs of gender dysphoria are noticed. “Gender dysphoria” refers to the conflict that occurs between a person’s physical gender and the gender with which the person identifies. While the bill has had a committee hearing already, it has yet to be voted on by the house. The way in which this bill is decided could have a significant influence on the rights that parents of transgender children have in Ohio, and could even influence laws throughout the country.

How the Transgender Bill Arose

The bill arose when a court in Hamilton County, Ohio granted grandparents parental rights over a transgender teenager. While the grandparents approved of the teen’s decision to receive hormone therapy, the child’s parents disagreed with this decision.

What the Law Requires

The law requires any government agent who is aware that a child under its care has exhibited any signs of gender dysphoria or any interest in being treated in a manner opposite to the child’s sex to immediately notify the child’s guardians or parents in writing. The notification that is provided must describe the circumstances in which the event occurred with total specificity. Once notified, parents must decide whether the child should be granted access to treatment including counseling, educational materials, and medical services. If a parent declines to grant permission, teachers are prohibited from sharing with the student any information about gender or sex counseling. If teachers provide this information when consent is refused, the teacher could end up facing a fourth-degree felony. Additionally, the bill prohibits evidence that parents declined to allow a child to receive treatment to be used in abuse complaints or custody cases.

Response to the Bill

Not everyone has responded to this proposed bill positively. The Ohio Education Association has announced its opposition to the bill and argued all people including transgender teenagers should be offered a safe and inclusive environment. Another group, Equality Ohio, has commented that the bill is anti-transgender because it endangers the lives of transgender youths by increasing the odds that the teenagers will encounter bullying after teachers report them. These criticisms rely on statistics suggesting that transgender teenagers frequently face unsupportive families and discrimination at school. For example, the National Center for Transgender Equality reports that 78% of transgender students have been harassed or assaulted and 18% of transgender people experience unsupportive families.

The Future of the Case

While it remains uncertain how this case will resolve, Ohio is currently considering several other similar regulations including bills that prohibit sexting and other legislation that prohibits revenge porn. While LGBTQ individuals experience a variety of hardships, transgender teenagers face some distinct hardships including an increased risk of bullying as well as parental alienation. Each month, the Universal Life Church strives to document the most significant changes associated with the development of LGBTQ rights.

(image courtesy of Michal Janek)

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